Blogging the Omer Says 36 & 37; Sick of Rubashkin? “Unicorn” chaser

Week Six, Day One
Chesed of Yesod

Week Six, Day Two
Gevurah of Yesod

So first, before you get the chaser, I want to direct you to the JLC site where there is a statement regarding the current mess:

The JLC has also learned that Agriprocessors is actively waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment against workers who have expressed an interest in exercising their legal right to union representation.

In this atmosphere, it is clear that the recent ICE raid at Agriprocessors, though apparently legal, only buttresses the conviction shared by many undocumented workers that our government is not only indifferent to worker abuse, but works in collusion with management to penalize workers who challenge it…

we call on Agriprocessors to live up to the responsibilities of corporate citizenship, end its campaign of worker abuse, and respect the rights of its employees including their legal right to union representation. Until Agriprocessors establishes its commitment to these responsibilities, we urge consumers of kosher meat products to seek alternatives to the Rubashkin labels.

There’s also an article in the Globe focusing on the crackdown on immigrants, while telling the usual round of outrages:

Postville, a conservative town, is an unlikely outpost for pro-immigrant sentiment. As a state trooper said at the emergency town meeting, everyone was up in arms about the immigration problem after a murder involving two migrant workers a year ago, now they’re upset about the arrest of the workers.

“When this happened a year ago everyone asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing something about this?’ Well, something did happen now. … It’s kind of damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”

Still, the impression among many non-Latinos in Postville is that the federal government targeted the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Any discussion of the subject often begins with the phrase, “The law is the law, but …”

“We got raped and we got plundered and we got pillaged Monday. Everybody in this town ought to be angry,” business owner Lyle Opheim said.

…“These people have been here 15 years and they’re entwined in our families and in our community,” Mr. Strudthoff said. “When 10 per cent of the population is imprisoned, it brings a community to its knees.”

Mr. Penrod, the town’s mayor, wears a blue-collared work shirt with his first name stitched on the fabric. He thinks of himself as a straight-talker who gets things done, which is why he’s so baffled by the state of U.S. immigration policy.

How can it be, he asks, that everyone knows these workers are here, that they’re needed, that they’re willing to do the jobs that Americans won’t do, and yet there seems no reasonable, legal way for them to enter the United States as guest workers?

And, of course, the law is the law, but does it make sense to enforce it only once in 10 years?

The stakes for his town are quite clear: Without a reservoir of cheap labour, the Agriprocessors plant may shut down, dragging the economic fortunes of everyone in Postville down with it. Already, immigrant families who avoided the raid are packing up and leaving because they’re afraid, and that means local schools will receive less funding next year.

And now for something completely different:

Apparently, there is an annual pilgrimage to what is believed to be the oldest synagogue in Africa, possibly as much as 2500 years old (although the present building dates from the 19th century and replaces one built in the 16th century). the El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba (featured in the video above). The synagogue is located in the formerly Jewish village of Harah Sghira in Tunisia. This site gives a fascinating description of the synagogue and its origins (its name attributed to the marvelous girl, a saint, whose body was left unconsumed by a fire that burnt her hut. Or possibly a girl who was a refuge from Israel arriving in Djerba with only a Torah scroll and a stone from the Temple, dying of exhaustion on the site where the synagogue is now built. Or also several other, equally interesting, explanations), as well as the yearly pilgrimage on lag ba'omer.

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik